White Sox: Breaking Down The Outfield for 2019 Season
The White Sox outfield could see many changes over the course of this upcoming season. The team’s top prospect will also make his debut in 2019.
If there were one compliment to give when glancing at the projected outfield for the 2019 White Sox, depth would probably be the only plausible answer. In 2018 the White Sox had the lowest outfield bWAR in the American League at -6.4. Due to the likelihood of Eloy Jimenez being called up a few weeks into this upcoming season, and the addition of Jon Jay, it is possible to see improvement in 2019. Let’s take a look at the current outfielders on the White Sox roster:
Daniel Palka: Palka delivered a highlight real of outstanding power in his 2018 rookie campaign. Palka’s ability to slug at a high level enabled him to lead the team in home runs last year, while also being among the home run leaders for rookies. A warranted diversification of his offensive approach would entail getting on base more, due to him only having a .294 OBP last season, well below the major league average of .318.
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Now the main problem thats been left unsaid is that Palka’s defensive ability is slim to none, with him having a defensive bWAR of -1.7 in over 60 games in the outfield last season. If Palka is unable to fix his defensive inabilities, rotating in the designated hitter spot might be what’s best for everyone involved.
Adam Engel: Engel could very well be the complete polar opposite of everything said about Palka. Defensively, Engel is one of the very best center fielders in baseball today. In 2018, Engel received his first ever Gold Glove award nomination, while also being top five in defensive fWAR in the American League among center fielders last year.
Unfortunately, that’s where the praises come to a halt. Despite improving towards the end of last season, Engels offensive production continued to be well below par with a slash line of .235/.279/.336, with an offensive bWAR of 0.4. Engel being an everyday player will forever hang on him being able to get on base at an effective level.
Nicky Delmonico: 2018 was a year of injuries for Delmonico. Due to a shoulder injury, Delmonico only appeared in 88 games this past season. In his small sample size of only 284 at-bats, Delmonico’s slash line of .215/.296/.373 with a -0.7 bWAR falls right into the lackluster offensive theme we seem to be seeing in the outfield. Delmonico turned a lot of heads when he made his debut towards the end of the 2017 season with an .856 OPS in over 40 games, so there is at least a small sample size of offensive production there. Look for the 26-year old outfielder to act on finding the stroke that brought him to majors a short time ago.
Leury Garcia: 2018 was a year of injuries for Garcia as well. Garcia was limited to only 258 ABs, in which he slashed .271/,303/.376, with a bWAR of 0.8. When healthy, Garcia is actually pretty reliable off the bench. A switch hitter that can play outfield and infield is a rarity that most teams would take advantage of. Look for Garcia to stay healthy and play of multitude of positions in 2019.
Jon Jay: When comparing Jay’s number to the rest of the outfield, it’s very easy to realize why he was such an obvious pick up (besides being friends with Manny Machado). Jay’s .330 OBP is the only OBP of all Sox outfielders that was over the major league average last year, and leads the entire roster based on last season. Jay’s veteran experience will help improve a young clubhouse, and add a possible everyday leadoff man that can get on base at a consistent level.
Eloy Jimenez: There is really nothing to say about Jimenez that hasn’t already been said. He’s a monster. He’s the number three overall prospect for a reason, having a 70 of 80 power grade, one of the highest in the top 100. His ceiling is entirely based on his offensive production, slugging .597 with a .996 OPS in Triple-A last season. In order to obtain another year of control, look for the future 22-year old phenom to be called up a few weeks into the 2019 season.
So overall, the 2019 opening day outfield will be lackluster to say the least. With that being said, it is entirely possible that the Sox add another outfielder. There have been multiple reports tying the Sox to Los Angeles Dodgers Outfielder Joc Pederson.
In order to give some perspective on what a move like that would do to the Sox outfield, the cumulative bWAR between Palka, Jay, Engel, Garcia, and Delmonico is 2.1. Pederson is coming off of a 2.3 bWAR season, which is not only better than all the outfielders on the roster combined, it’s not even the best of his career. As long as the Dodgers aren’t asking for any blue chip prospects (which is very unlikely), look for talks to pick back up once the Machado saga has come to an end.